How Facing Your Fear Helps You
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I struggle with my anxieties and fears. Everyone does in some way, right? But I’m managing to breakthrough to new levels of courage through developing a better understanding of my fears.
It’s important to recognize that being afraid is a normal experience and a positive indication that we‘re challenging ourselves beyond the norm. Whenever we explore new territory or challenge ourselves to do something bigger or different, it can bring out our fear. When we feel fear, it’s important to acknowledge that we are pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone and appreciate our courage in doing so.
That’s something I tend to forget when I’m going through intense fear.
But I want to stop and acknowledge my bravery in continuing to deal with something that challenges my fears. Taking a moment to assess and acknowledge being courageous is in itself a way to relieve stress. Stress coping mechanisms can decrease fear and improve confidence. So take a moment to pat yourself on the back for continuing through a difficult moment!
I’m learning that fear is also an indicator of inner wisdom. I’ve learned to listen to my fear and try to address what wisdom it’s leading me to reveal. Fear is a normal function in human life that's intrinsically set up to protect our lives. It‘s up to us to do the inner work to figure out what fear wants to protect us against.
I find that once I work through the things I’m concerned about, I’m better able to pull up the wisdom to find solutions or ways to take action and move forward.
This is what fear wants me to do;
Take a look at the issues causing concern and use my problem-solving skills to open up a new vista.
When I do that, fear has no need to function in my life, and departs.
All of us have this inner wisdom. I think fear is a powerful catalyst for tapping into our inner strengths.
I often turn to historical figures for their wisdom and encourage-ment. I especially like Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote;
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
This means that we must use fear to develop TRUST in our own ability to handle anything in our lives. Experiencing fear shows GROWTH of our potential and expansion into new levels of our LIMITLESS capacity.
Sometimes this kind of growth comes through tragedy or misfortune. When I faced a personal loss in my family, I faced some of my darkest fears. But the inner growth I had to go through during that time was exponentially greater than other chapters in my life. Having gone through such a difficult internal challenge has made me stronger, more compassionate, and able to perceive life through a broader scope of rich meaning and gratitude.
I’m learning to look at fear as an incredibly positive barometer of my self-development! Each time in my life I‘ve felt most fearful was a period in which I was pushing myself to become a better human being, develop new skills, or challenge myself to more advanced levels of accomplishment.
Let’s aim to be grateful for our courage and for continually challenging our fears.
What lessons or inspiration do your fears teach you? Join the conversation with a comment below.
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by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Change Requires Taking A Leap Of Faith
A chat with a close friend this week was so enlightening and helpful I want to share it. This friend has been by my side through thick and thin for the past 18 months.
She was there as I resigned my music ed position, sold my Florida home, and moved back to my home state (Kentucky) to be in place as Mom’s caregiver. (My two sisters helped Mom through our father’s battle with cancer. He passed away 5 years ago. I determined to help with Mom as needed.)
I took a major leap of faith to make this huge transition into launching a second career as a 50+ single woman. I’m pursuing my lifelong dream to be a professional writer, composer, and online product and course creator.
It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had numerous unexpected obstacles. People have disappointed me. I’ve made mistakes. Some things failed entirely.
When Your Closest Friends Are Fear And Doubt
During my journey for the past year and a half, my closest companions were my overwhelming self-doubt and fear. My tendency toward insomnia escalated dramatically from my nightly battle against anxiety.
The switch from a steady teaching job to being a caregiver and entrepreneur raised my deepest doubts. This constantly interfered with my sleep patterns and stunted my wisdom to make decisive, appropriate business decisions. I often felt paralyzed with fear of failure.
I’ve discussed my fears repeatedly with the friend mentioned above. As I’ve wrestled my negative feelings head-on, I’ve pulled out all the stops for the solution to win over them. I’m gratefully making tremendous progress with overcoming insomnia, and with winning over my angst.
Fear Reveals Your Courage
I’d like to share some of the things that are working for me, as they may be useful to you. First I want to point out how my friend illuminated things for me; She said that the fact I’ve battled so strongly with fear is an indication of my courage. I wouldn’t even have my courage, without my fear.
That pierced my heart with hope as it made me realize how much I’ve been challenging myself to grow beyond my comfort zone! If I had stayed in my secure job, in my comfy home, and didn’t choose to tackle the responsibility of being my parent’s caregiver or go after my dream as an online entrepreneur and creator, that fear would not appear in my life.
Your Fear Proves Your Growth
If I’d remained where I was 2 years ago, I’d be “safe.” But I wouldn’t be developing my potential or expanding my happiness.
It’s important to remember that when we tackle new adventures, learn new things, or face unexpected difficulties, we are in the fantastic position to transform our lives.
While constant devouring entrepreneurial, self-improvement, and Buddhist literature, I came across the idea that fear is completely natural when launching something new or facing unexpected challenge.
Fear is an indicator of growth. It means we’re going in the right direction, we’re demanding more of our limitless potential.
Find Your Best Self Through The Mirror of Fresh Perspective
Another thing that encouraged the hell out of me, was my friend’s tone of confidence when she mentioned that whatever I do from now will be successful because I’m so capable. We don’t often have the fortune to hear anyone, including ourselves, showering praise for our innate capability.
People don’t tend to mention how inevitable our success will be because of our unique abilities. If anyone does mention it, we often don’t hear it.
Instead, we typically ingrain oodles of negativity from the voices of others. Those old tapes get stuck in our minds, replaying over and over, while the positive encouragement so often gets lost amid that noise.
Hearing my friend’s voice of confidence in me stopped me in my tracks. It made me look at the mirror of my mind with fresh perspective.
The idea of recognizing and trusting in my capacity (talent, wisdom, experience, skill, compassionate energy) nearly shocked me with the reality that I tend to constantly negate my potential.
This led me to immediately ask myself,
“What if I believed in myself as much as my friend believes in me?”
Pretend You Are Amazing
This leads me to concentrate fully on envisioning my life through the lens of self-belief. Even if I have to pretend I’m someone else who believes in me.
I’m not condoning selfishness or ego. Rather, I’m referring to envisioning myself through the perspective of my best qualities.
Defining your qualities may bring up a self-depreciating attitude. But, sometimes what we think are our worst qualities are seen as admirable from someone else’s perspective!
Every tendency of your life has both a negative and positive aspect. Keep pretending that you are amazing, imagining that each trait you possess is functioning in the most positive way.
I’ve learned that if I look for the good in myself and others, I will find it. Even if I feel I must dig deeper to see something positive, it is through that burst of concentrated effort that I uncover value.
The act of searching for that positive value is the process that delivers actual proof and enables progress. In other words, the effort made to win over negativity is the very thing that leads to victory and developing inner strength. The more I use that muscle, the easier it gets, too.
Use Your Gratitude As Fuel For Action
My friend served as a catalyst for my awareness of my courage and capability. This inspires me to do my best to repay my gratitude to people like my dear friend, who encourages my faith, personal development, and success in life and business.
Writing a list in my daily journal of what I appreciate in my life helps remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing. Appreciation is a strong weapon against fear and doubt, too.
When I think of my friend and others who have believed in me, encouraged and supported me in my life, it fuels my determined action. This helps me create momentum to power through fear and doubt.
Focus On The Positive Boosts Drive
Imagining my greatest potential, acknowledging my innate courage, and taking action to repay my debt of gratitude to others are things I now use as focal points going forward. Focusing on the positive, and taking action from that place redirects me away from my negativity.
What we think about becomes our reality. Buddhism teaches the law of cause and effect; What I think or do creates the kind of life I have. My mentor, Buddhist leader and peace activist, Daisaku Ikeda explains, “The reality of your future self is forged by your current action, in your behavior now.”
Defeat Fear With Constant Action
In the past, I’ve allowed my anxiety and self-slander to stunt my progress, or stop me from achieving my goals. Now, I’m actively experiencing how my inner voice determines my external progress. Training myself to think proactively and positively is working.
I take more energetic action, get more accomplished, appreciate myself more, have better moods, and sleep better as a result.
I’ve learned to replace fear with action that is based on positive mindset. I aim to focus on the positive and envision the best outcome as I take action.
But, sometimes I still have to battle my inner demons. Even if I feel doubtful or have anxiety, I find that setting clear daily goals and taking decisive action helps me win over my negative self-talk.
I find that the less time I allow myself to think about my insecurities, and the more I do toward my daily goals, the stronger my inner voice of confidence becomes.
Use Prayer To Transform Your Anxiety
Here’s what’s working for me in my battle against mental angst:
As an SGI Buddhist, I start and end my day with prayer. My mornings start with an hour of Buddhist chanting, during which I set a determination for the day’s success and productivity.
I also use that time to send waves of prayer to others in my life, from family to friends, and you, my online audience.
I resolve to be effective and to fulfill my potential through my daily actions. In the evenings, I do a short 4-minute prayer to reflect and appreciate the day’s progress and life lessons.
The health and positive mental effects of my daily Buddhist practice are profound. Chanting gives me hope, boosts my compassion, and restores my energy. It’s an amazing tool I’ve used for 32 years. If you’d like to learn more about SGI Buddhism, please click here.
Build Your Positivity Fortress
Besides my incredibly supportive friends, and my participation in SGI-USA activities, I immerse myself in positivity.
From listening to upbeat podcasts, blogs, and my favorite music, to reading books on positive mindset, to my SGI-USA Buddhist publications, I devour all things about positive-thinking.
The more I delve into this kind of content, the easier it is for me to shift my focus to it. This dramatically diminishes or replaces my negative self-talk.
Developing a daily routine while vigilantly training my brain to see my best self has been helping me achieve more as I continue forging my new adventurous path. I plan to keep moving forward toward my dreams as I challenge myself to fulfill my potential.
I hope giving you an inside peak into my journey is helpful to you, too. Please let me know in the comments below if it is, or if you have any questions or other topics you’d like me to explore more deeply!
I sincerely pray this content inspires YourCreativeChord!
I’d love to hear from you. It means a lot to me that my content is helpful and empowers you. Please take a moment to join the conversation below to let me know if this blog is helpful or if you have questions or suggestions!
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